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School Board wants a say in all staff raises

A policy approved Monday by the Medford School Board gives the board final say in future changes to compensation for administrators, managers and confidential employees.

Drafted as a result of compensation changes made by Superintendent Phil Long in August, board members say the new policy will allow the board to give more input before compensation plans are changed.

In August 2012, Long announced that the administrative employee group would receive a 4.5 percent increase on its base wages, plus a one-time 2 percent stipend increase for 2012-13.

Long said the increases were based partly on the district's plan to cut early retirement benefits for the administrators and others and to dramatically cut the district's contribution to their health insurance costs.

Several board member's criticized both the increase in wages that the employees received — especially the raises for highly paid administrators —and the manner in which the compensation changes were communicated to the public.

"This was a poor budgetary decision by the superintendent," said board member Marlene Yesquen in her evaluation of Long, completed in February.

Board member Kim Wallan said in her evaluation of Long that the communication about the administrator salaries was "woefully inadequate" and "less than honest."

Other board members have praised Long for his ability to facilitate a major change in the administrative employee group's health care costs.

The board policy committee developed a policy in the months since the compensation changes, and now will be required to vote on whether to allow such changes in the future.

Final contract changes for the district's classified staff and teachers already are subject to board approval.

Long said Tuesday he has no problem with the new board policy.

"It's a reasonable policy, and I don't have any issue with it," said Long. "They wanted to have a say."

Reach reporter Teresa Ristow at 541-776-445 or tristow@mailtribune.com.